We’re just days away from the release of my newest book, Small Group Vital Signs. In anticipation, I’m sharing what some of my friends and small group ministry partners have so generously said about the book. Today, my old friend, Pat Sikora.

Is your small group healthy? Really? How do you know? As a person involved in small group leadership for over 35 years, I know it’s easy to meander along and just assume that if everyone’s getting along, we are a healthy group and we are doing most things right. But how do we know for sure? Michael Mack is one of the leading small group pastors in the country. He has authored several books on leadership and now has added to his repertoire with Small Group Vital Signs, in which he offers a thorough discussion on each of seven vital signs. He then offers an assessment to measure the health of your group. Mike is a shepherd at heart, and that shows through on every page. If your group seems to be lacking something, but you’re not sure what, you’ll benefit from this book.
I first met Pat Sikora back in the early ’90s when I was an editor at Standard Publishing. Standard had published her book, Small Group Bible Studies: How to Lead Them. In one of my favorite chapters in the book, Pat helped leaders with how to deal with challenging groups or group members. She created memorable characters such as Mona Monopoly and Quentin Quiet, and then gave step-by-step directions on how to help that person and, at the same time, create a healthy environment for the group. When I began editing a column in The Lookout magazine, I worked with Pat to do short articles on each of these challenging people. Then, when I started SmallGroups.com, Pat became a regular columnist, using much of the same material and even creating some new situations and characters. In 2007, I helped Standard create some new small group resources, and one of the first people I called was Pat. I asked her to devote a whole book to helping leaders deal with challenging people, so she authored Why Didn’t You Warn Me? How to deal with challenging group members in our series of Small Group Help Guides. Today, you can find out more on Pat’s Why Didn’t You Warn Me web page.

Over the years, I’ve learned tons from Pat about leading healthy small groups. She showed me how to care for those challenging people (who we sometimes call “EGRs” or Extra Grace Required people) with grace and firmness. She taught me how to love a person and not treat them as an object or a problem, but, at the same time, put the needs of the whole group above any one individual in a group. 

But Pat is much more than just a small group expert. She is the founder of Mighty Oak Ministries, a ministry that provides tools, resources, and strategies to equip the body of Christ to …
  • encourage and nurture the wounded and broken in their churches and ministries
  • help them grow deeply, heal progressively, and mature splendidly

Pat continues to write, speak, and equip. She works extensively with women, parents, small group leaders, and writers. See more about Pat on her bio page.

I’m so grateful to Pat for all I’ve learned from her that found their way onto the pages of Small Group Vital Signs.


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Michael Mack has led Small Group Leadership full-time since 2012, but has been involved in small group ministry for more than 25 years. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. Their family small group, which includes their four young adult children, has much potential (and much anticipation) for future growth and multiplication. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of great friends who participate together in various charity rides. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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